Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 4 recap – the episode explained

By Marc Miller
Published: April 15, 2022 (Last updated: November 4, 2023)
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Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 4 recap – the episode explained


As a demonstration of geek bravado, I successfully guessed the big twist in Anatomy of Scandal. And boy, it’s a doozy.

This recap of the Netflix series Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 4, contains spoilers.

Read the season 1 review of Anatomy of a Scandal.

Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 4 recap

The episode opens with Sophie having a nightmare. She sees her old college friend, Holly, enter their bedroom. She has what looks like a small metal bookend. Sophie calls out her name and watches her smash the solid object into James’s skull as he sleeps.

This leads to some flashback scenes where a young Sophie wants Holly’s notes, even though she did not do her part. Holly gives her this week’s notes and next week. Holly looks upset and is packing. Sophie asks where she is going. She looks at her blonde, lazy friend and tells her, “Fuck off!” She then throws that same bookend in her direction, missing her. Sophie needs a break. She tells James that she is not going to court that morning and takes the kids to see his parents. James is not happy with this decision.

Meanwhile, Kate continues to act strange. She tells her married lover to go home in the night. He argues with her because her lover used to be her boss years prior and had power over her. Why is she fine with that and not with Whitehouse? (Now, he does not appear to be a bright man, so we will give him a pass here). Angela now informs her that a third party has claimed Whitehouse raped a woman in the 90s at the university and wanted to know what games Kate is playing. She honestly tells her that she knows nothing about it and that it would be too late anyway to bring it to trial.

When Kate gets back to the office, she asks Maggie directly if she remembers telling her specifically to NOT look into James Whitehouse’s Oxford years with any case officers? Maggie tells her she didn’t, but Kate pursues it as if she does not believe her. Eventually, she apologizes to her. It is, again, strange that Kate would insist on not gathering this information before the trial, right? Also, not trying to get this evidence submitted? Or even thinking this may be good news? When she is in court questioning Olivia’s coworker, she seems distracted and makes a mistake. She lost her train of thought and then asked a question that puts judgment on Olivia, how the affair was a mistake.

Later, Sophie and James get in a fight about what happened at the end of that first year. James continues to deny he knew who Holly was. Sophie is upset and has no interest in leaving him if he is still the same man (or ever was?). They embrace, and Sophie thinks back on how Holly was not his type and how he left her that night. The flashbacks continue from Holly’s state of mind. She was drunk that night at Oxford. After singing “Dancing Queen,” she was lightheaded and headed back to her dorm.

James then runs into her, apologizes, and calls her, “Pretty Polly.” Holly goes along with it. He kisses her and gets aggressive. She stops him, but he apologizes again and is gentle with her. She kisses him back. But then things go wrong, and Holly is scared. He rapes her in the way that Olivia described in the prior episode. He even says that infamous line to her and leaves.

However, it is strange that this memory comes from Sophie’s flashback. When the scene ends, we see Kate Woodcroft upset, sitting on the stairs. She picks up her cell phone and calls her mother, and when she picks up, she tells her it is “Holly.” A teenage Holly sits next to Kate as she looks back at what she looked like as a young college student. Yes, Holly is Kate.

If you look back, Kate was reluctant to take the case, and her colleagues were taken back by it. It was a hard case to win, after all. She became scared, agitated, and careless in court around James. The camera even focused on the name “Kate” on her coffee cup. She became upset as if someone was going to expose her own identity with the news from the assault in the 90s. Kate even took pride in pointing out how she was “Kate Woodcroft” and struck the nameplate on her office door.

Almost as if she had created a fake identity to protect herself. As if the new name and her persona were armor, protecting her from the rape she suffered two decades prior.

What did you think of the Netflix series Anatomy of a Scandal season 1, episode 4? Let us know in the comments below!

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